As the Green Line moves forward, are Ward 4’s aspirations being shortchanged?
City engagement for planning along the north segment of the Green Line began in February and continues next week. Station workshops are underway, giving local residents feedback into station locations on the line. The workshops have proven so popular that residents are being added to a waiting list to participate.
But the biggest effort is reserved for “Design Charrettes”. These six day interactive workshops bring together residents, city planners, and developers to imagine what redeveloped communities around Green Line stations could look like. What about Apartments? Condos? Services? An Interesting Streetscape? Bus Connectivity? Coffee shops? Grocery stores? Pedestrian access? Through a series of computer simulations, modelling and extensive feedback, charrettes attempt to answer these questions, building a vision and plan for communities surrounding a station.
Why then is there only a single Design Charrette planned in Ward 4?
It’s curious, given that of ten Green Line stops north of downtown five are in Ward 4 communities. And yet only one Ward 4 charrette will be held, at 64th Avenue. Meanwhile further north in Ward 3, one of two stations will benefit from a charrette, while leading out of downtown three of three stations in Ward 7 will be covered in a “linear” Design Charrette.
Of course not all development questions will be answered today. “No Charrette” does not mean “No Development”. But a Design Charrette sends a clear signal to residents and developers alike about priorities and future direction. Ward 4 Communities agreed to the Green Line alignment on Centre Street in the belief that it could bind and rebuild frayed communities along their core artery. A comprehensive design exercise represents the city’s commitment to do just that.
From my work with the Green Line North Communities, I know that a major concern for community leaders is the risk that the Green Line project will over-emphasize transportation at the expense of redevelopment. Ward 4 communities worry that the Green Line will end up looking more like the 16th Avenue widening instead of a rebuilt, reimagined Centre Street corridor.
If we’re serious about investing in Ward 4 communities like Highland Park, Thorncliffe Greenview, Huntington Hills, and Beddington Heights, then we need to ensure these communities are directly shaping redevelopment around their local stations.
Five stations. One charrette. Why is Ward 4 missing out?